It’s no surprise that lifelong friendships are often forged out of the rigor and intensity of an Art Center education. Take Mark Smith (BFA 88 Graphic) and Chris Lundy (BFA 89 Illustration), who met at Art Center in 1985. What’s followed has been 30 years of artistic collaborations, a shared love of music, film and writing and surf days on the beach. When Chris was diagnosed this past September with glioblastoma multiforme, a cancerous tumor of the brain, the two friends met the challenge side by side. Inspired by each other and their shared Art Center experience, they decided to create a scholarship in Chris’s name.
On Saturday, July 18, an exhibition spearheaded by Mark will showcase Chris’s extraordinary paintings, with proceeds going to support the Chris Lundy Creative Scholarship. The fund will provide financial assistance to talented Art Center students. Mark offered to talk to us about the exhibition, which will take place at the headquarters of Hurley in Costa Mesa, and his friendship with Chris. Here’s our conversation:
Dotted Line: Tell me about the inspiration behind the scholarship.
Mark Smith: Chris and I were hanging out at his painting studio looking at his current work. Mid-conversation, Chris said, “It would be so cool if these paintings could help inspire and stoke a kid to pursue art. How could that happen?” Creating an Art Center scholarship was the natural answer. The Chris Lundy Creative Scholarship Fund. It has a nice ring to it.
DL: How did the two of you meet?
MS: We met at Art Center—first term, first class, first day. Art Center shaped us in ways that we are excited to share with future generations
DL: Why is a scholarship a good way to honor Chris?
MS: Chris exemplifies all the attributes of the artistic pursuit at Art Center while at school and continued to refine process, depth and work ethic. The show will be an amazing example of work spanning 30 years that I have been watching him paint. It’s also a way for Chris to honor Art Center.
DL: Tell me about the show. What can people expect?
MS: The show simply has power. On all levels. The commitment to his work. The energy. The subject. The abstract. What is so powerful and meaningful for me is how the legacy he created is carried over to inspire the future and how it can change lives. Bob Hurley was kind enough to offer an amazing space and team. Celebrating the work and creating a fund from the work—that is incredible stuff. Add to that the element of brain cancer and how Chris painted his way through all of it to complete what I would consider his greatest work, and I think that makes the show even more meaningful. I watched as he powered through treatment and discomfort and agony—by painting. The results are staggering.
DL: What do you experience when you look at his work?
MS: Beauty, chaos, intensity, harmony, humor and explosive energy. He is a gifted American painter whose subject matter clearly reflects his experience, state of mind and worldview. I would also characterize his work as wholly unique.
DL: How would you describe your friendship with Chris?
MS: We are basically Laurel and Hardy, a comedy around every corner and our own worst enemies. Through all the arts, music, film, comedy and writing we’ve shared, we have become brothers. We argue about all the same stuff. We agree to disagree. We’ve never had a fight. We pretty much laugh at everything we see and turn it all into a TV show. We amuse each other with how far out there we can narrate any given ridiculous scene.
DL: What is Chris’s reaction to the exhibition and the scholarship?
MS: He’s very excited. He’s also excited that Art Center is excited about him being excited.
DL: How do you hope the scholarship will serve a student?
MS: Ideally, we’d like to see someone with raw, untapped potential based on true talent have access to the level of instruction, guidance and networking available at Art Center. And to pull that talent into the creative community in a way that wouldn’t have been possible due to lack of funding and resources.
DL: What has the experience of arranging this exhibition been like for you, personally?
MS: Overall, I find myself in the middle of a unique situation where art, friendship, cancer, family, work, passion, talent, philanthropy, education, goodwill and love are all slamming together to affect and influence each other. I’m excited beyond description to see all this fine work together in one location and to be able to share it and to share Chris’s journey. Utilizing his art to create a fund for future creatives. That’s the creamiest icing on an already rich and layered cake.
The exhibition, open to the public, takes place on Saturday, July 18, 2015, from 4–9 p.m. at Hurley HQ, 1945 Placentia Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92627. For more information, call 949.548.9375.